It was the rematch nearly three years in the making.
Except it wasn't.
When Nate Diaz choked out Gray Maynard to advance to the finale of The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) 5, he did so knowing full well that his "Bully" beatdown would never appear in any official record book, as any and all contests held under the combat sports reality show were "exhibition" only.
Try telling that to Maynard.
Whether or not you can document their first go-round, which took place on the final episode of TUF 5 back in June of 2007, is irrelevant. Over a million mixed martial arts (MMA) fans tuned in to watch Maynard tap, and there's no way in hell he was going to show his face in the 209 without getting his shot at redemption.
Despite his bizarre, no-contest finish against Rob Emerson at TUF 5 Finale, Maynard was able to find his rhythm and embarked on a torrid six-fight winning streak, one that included wins over Frankie Edgar and Jim Miller. The only knock on "The Bully" was that he was unable to finish all but one of his opponents.
Still, he seemed destined to fight for the title.
But no one was going to take him seriously as a top contender until he exorcised his TUF demons. Fortunately for Maynard, things came to an abrupt halt for Diaz after consecutive losses to Clay Guida and Joe Stevenson derailed his hype train.
Though a rebound win over Melvin Guillard was enough to re-establish his place in the division.
The bookies, however, were not convinced. Maynard was quickly pegged as the -350 favorite for their UFC Fight Night 20 main event, a rare Monday night fight card which took place on Jan. 11, 2010 from the Patriot Center in Fairfax, Virginia, live via Spike TV.
Where UFC was unceremoniously destroyed in the ratings by WWE Monday Night RAW (see why here).
That said, the ratings were not the big story coming out of "Old Dominion." Instead, it was the fact that Maynard had evened an imaginary score with Diaz by way of split decision. But the fight was hardly the exclamation point the surging contender was hoping to stamp on the record books.
Maynard -- a talented All American wrestler out of Michigan State -- didn't attempt a single takedown throughout the entire 15-minute affair. Instead, he opted to trade leather with his wily opponent. As he's been known to do, Diaz threw over 250 significant strikes, but landed just 70.
"The Bully" was 41 of 142.
Following the event, there was some controversy about whether or not Diaz had been hosed by the cageside judges. Because Maynard did not hit one out of the park, as intended, he was quick to sign on the dotted line several years later when the opportunity to settle their score -- yet again -- came knocking.
Diaz, it would seem, did not share his enthusiasm.
Nevertheless, these two will once again headline a network televised event, as The Ultimate Fighter 18 Finale caps off another season of up-and-coming prospects, who can only hope to follow in the footsteps of the event headliners. The action gets underway this Saturday night (Nov. 30, 2013) at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada, live on FOX Sports 1.
To see how Maynard and Diaz first made history back in 2007, click here.